I'm interested in getting a quad copter type uav, and have a few basic questions before deciding how to start. I think I'd like to get a kit (like the one here at store.diydrones), and build it myself, as it will be more rewarding than buying it RTF, and I should gain some knowledge on how to fix it when things go wrong.

However, I'm a bit concerned that I may get stuck and not know enough about how to continue, whether it's about how to connect a receiver up, soldering problems, or whatever. I'm a software engineer by trade, not a mechanical/electrical engineer, though I've built some RC cars and a (small) helicopter in the past. 

My question then becomes, would you recommend a kit to a noob? Or is my lack of knowledge going to be more of a burden, to the point of making it exceedingly difficult to be able to achieve stable flight? I know buying it pre-built is more expensive, but if it's hardly going to fly or fly poorly building it myself, I'd rather spend the extra money to get something I know will work.

Assuming things go well, the next thing I'd want to do is add a camera, then maybe an FPV setup.

Any advice and/or pointers to good beginner information would be awesome.


- Blake

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Wow, very helpful replies from everyone, thanks to all. The opinions on the radio seem to be all over the place, so I'll have to think about it for a few days and just pick one.

I'm lucky that my office has a few hardware engineers who have offered to give me some soldering lessons and help out with electrical questions.

Some kind of trainer software sounds like an excellent idea. I'll look into that.

Sounds like you're in good shape there Blake.  With the radios, (as with everything) do your research and go the path you feel comfortable with  that's the joy of going down the kit path.  One word of warning on the radios though - don't go Turnigy.

One thing I didn't say re soldering though.  I hadn't soldered for a few years so I went out and bought some wennig kits - basic high school grade kits that teach you about all various types of electronics.  The important thing is that they give you soldering practice and you can see if your souldering works. Cost a few dollars for a great deal of comfort and can get you thinking about other electronic projects that you may want to add to your drone.



There's not much soldering if you get the already-built APM.  Mostly on the PDB.

The Radio gear conflict is often driven from people with “decent” gear (over $400 in value). As I am sure you can understand once you have had one of the vastly more expensive units the cheaper spectrum radios just aren’t up to scratch.


Grab a cheap quad off the net (you can get them for $40) and smash it around (do it outside), this will teach you the basics and is far better than any flight sim, in saying that, nearly all the common kits have setups on one of the sims. Make sure you do plenty of time on the sims with you specific designs on the chosen radio as there will be  a big difference and steep learning curve going to the large (and more expensive) kit.


With regards to soldering, if you are not use to doing this, don’t try it on your expensive and sensitive electronics, a little too much heat or a little too long and it’s gave over without the ability to find what you have fried. Just get the pre-assembled version this way it’s just adding plugs rather than trying to solder. Soldering is kind of like painting, it takes time and practice to get any good and you don’t want to be commissioned to paint a masterpiece the first time you try…..


Best of luck, it is a fantastic hobby with plenty of time to be wasted tinkering

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